Due to a continuing series of shocking mass-shootings, 2012 may very well go down as the year of the lone-nut-gunman-mowing-down-innocents. The most shocking of these incidents occurred in Newton, Connecticut two short weeks before Christmas, when a shooter entered Sandy Hook Elementary before gunning down 20 children and 6 adults. It is not surprising that this incident sparked much debate not only on the place of assault rifles and extended clips in civil society, but more importantly there was much needed discussion on how best to keep this nation's children safe.
Head of the NRA and maligned wingnut, Wayne LaPierre, posited the classic truism of "the best defense is a good offense" as the key to securing schools. Following his speech, some suggested teachers be allowed to carry a loaded firearm with them throughout the school day. These armed stewards of knowledge would then be the first line of defense between any deranged gunman and the targeted youth.
Roundly mocked for his counter-intuitive solution of solving gun violence with more guns, LaPierre was depicted as a man out of touch with the realities of society, concerned only with protecting the gun lobbies that pay his salary. However, it was not his suggestion of more guns as a cure-all that troubled me, but his reliance on public school teachers being mentally and physically fit enough to conduct a gun battle in close quarters.
Based on my own experiences, I can't say I had a single teacher throughout my years in public education that I would feel comfortable defending my life if a marauder came to school with lethal intentions. I recall teachers who were unable to manage a class of seventh graders without a nervous breakdown, and these are the public servants in whom I am to entrust with child safety? I think not.
Teachers can't even manage to prepare their students for standardized tests, let alone prepare them for an armed assailant. That is why we need to continue the demolition of the teachers' unions, remove them from the educational apparatus and insert people who know a thing or two about keeping our citizens safe.
In this struggling economy, too often soldiers come home to few job prospects, and even fewer relevant to the training they received in the armed services. In an example of American ingenuity, the government can kill two birds with one stone by replacing our outdated educators with the protectors of knowledge from our armed forces. Jobs will be created and the children will be protected.
Now there may exist some trepidation about the ability of trained killers to properly educate our children with the knowledge requisite to survive in 21st century America, and those worries are not without merit. The current academic system reduces the value of real-world knowledge, exemplified by returning veterans, in favor of vague terms like "problem solving" and "lateral thinking", but it does not have to be so if we just revise the system.
With the decline of quality careers in this country, combined with the burgeoning school to prison pipeline, point to the need to seriously revamp our school systems. Education in abstract areas like the arts provide nothing to the factory worker of tomorrow, and as IKEA showed in Danville, VA, manufacturing jobs can be the backbone of this economy once again. If we make our schools as secure as our prisons, there could be a stronger focus on preparing our students for the real world and far less on safety. Let those with experience in defense be the ones to guard our most precious natural resource, cheap manual labor.
With a little innovation we could structure our schools to have our children more corporate ready. Shop class could be sponsored by Nike, and students could get used to the pleasures from a day of good manual labor. Social studies could be farmed out to companies as market research programs, breeding a familiarity between the students and the products they will produce. In my mind, such an idea is win-win. And behind the bars and armed guards of their local public school, students would be guarded from the harsh realities of the outside world.
This is the future of our country, the ugly necessity of our times. Let us not turn away in revulsion from the task ahead of us, but instead accept the fate of this proud country, and work to get her back to where she needs to be.